It is surely the case that the brain contains no material objects other than its own channels and switchways and its own metabolic supplies and that all this material hardware never enters the narratives of the mind. Thought can be about pigs or coconuts, but there are no pigs or coconuts in the brain; and in the mind, there are no neurons, only ideas of pigs and coconuts. There is, therefore, always a certain complementarity between the mind and the matters of its computation. The process of coding or representation that substitutes the idea of pigs or coconuts for the things is already a step, even a vast jump, in logical typing. The name is not the thing named, and the idea of pig is not the pig.

Gregory Bateson

Born: May 9, 1904

Died: July 4, 1980 (Age 76)

Gregory Bateson was an English anthropologist, social scientist, linguist, visual anthropologist, semiotician, and cyberneticist whose work intersected that of many other fields. In the 1940s, he helped extend systems theory and cybernetics to the social and behavioral sciences. He spent the last decade of his life developing a "meta-science" of epistemology to bring together the various early forms of systems theory developing in different fields of science. His writings include Steps to an Ecology of Mind and Mind and Nature.

Bateson's interest in systems theory and cybernetics forms a thread running through his work. He was one of the original members of the core group of the Macy conferences in Cybernetics, and the later set on Group Processes, where he represented the social and behavioral sciences. Bateson was interested in the relationship of these fields to epistemology. His association with the editor and author Stewart Brand helped to widen his influence. From the 1970s until his last years, a broader audience of university students and educated people working in many fields came to know his thought.

Available Documents: 3

Learning to Think in a New Way
Delivered at the second Lindisfarne Association conference, Bateson challenged the relationship between “consciousness” and “evolution” and suggested what it might mean to “learn to think in a new way.”
Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity
April 30, 1979
Renowned for his contributions to anthropology, biology, and the social sciences, Bateson asserts that man must think as Nature does to live in harmony on the earth and, citing examples from the natural world, he maintains that biological evolution is a mental process.
Steps to an Ecology of Mind
Steps to an Ecology of Mind is a collection of Gregory Bateson's short works over his long and varied career. Subject matter includes essays on anthropology, cybernetics, psychiatry, and epistemology.

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